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Language Targeting

The term “Language Targeting” refers to the alignment of websites or online advertisements that automatically adapt to the language of the respective visitors. For webmasters and website operators with an international focus, websites in the language of the target group are of great importance so that the websites can be correctly indexed by search engines and read by visitors. Advertisements in the language of the respective target group are important for international search engine advertising.

General information

Multilingual targeting of websites and online advertisements is a complex yet extremely important undertaking. While there are 24 different official languages in the European Union, in the United States of America you only have to deal with English and Spanish. In fact, however, in both the US and the EU, most people speak English as a second language in addition to their national language. The issue is further complicated by the fact that users can set individual language settings on their devices at different levels, such as:

  • at device level
  • at operating system level
  • at browser level
  • at Application level
In addition, language settings are handled differently by the two major mobile operating systems, iOS and Android. Furthermore, many users who are proficient in two or more languages choose to have the operating system set in one language and the browser possibly in another, which can lead to problems with automatic language recognition within websites and Apps.

Importance of Language Targeting

When developing multilingual websites, data from Google Analytics provide relevant information. The Analytics profile shows which countries visitors are coming from. This can help identify new countries to target or prioritise those already identified from previous analysis and experience. However, such analyses can also lead to new challenges. This is the case, for example, when visitors access the website from a multilingual country such as Belgium (French and Dutch) or Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian). The fact that two or more official languages are used in such countries could be discouraged in the context of Language Targeting by limiting the site to one language per country. For an automatic alignment of the website to different languages, one can make use of different techniques, such as:

By using the HTML attributes rel=”alternate” and hreflang=“x” in the HTML source code of the website, Google can automatically serve the URL for the correct region and language to search engine users.

Language related web pages and ads

The importance of language-based targeting should not be underestimated at all. In metropolises such as Los Angeles, Berlin or Paris, more than 250 different languages are spoken in some cases. On top of that, there are hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors every year. In today’s global market, any online marketer who wants to reach a transnational audience can optimize the impact of their communication strategy through the targeted use of Language Targeting optimize. And although this method has been possible for years, many online marketers and advertisers are not taking advantage of this opportunity. However, the increasingly sophisticated analysis of visitors, combined with modern techniques such as geo-location, means that voice-based targeting will not remain a fringe phenomenon in the future.


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